Shirley Chowdhary

Shirley Chowdhary

Alumni leaders

LLB 1994

Shirley has been the CEO of the GO Foundation since 2016. The GO Foundation was founded by Sydney Swans Legends, Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin, and provides cultural and aspirational mentoring, financial assistance and access to opportunities for Indigenous students. At the heart of the GO Ecosystem is a burning desire to strengthen students’ cultural identity - to connect them in a meaningful way to their history, culture and heritage. In addition, by sharing students’ perspective and their culture with our Ecosystem partners, we hope to create workplaces that are truly inclusive and welcoming of all Australians.

After finishing her Law degree at UNSW, Shirley started her career at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton after passing the New York Bar. She worked in Japan and across Asia for eight years, as an Associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Regional Counsel for JP Morgan Investment Management.

After working on a number of community initiatives, including writing a biography for a World War 2 prisoner of war, Shirley returned to banking and finance joining the legal team at BT Financial Group and Westpac Banking Corporation. Before joining the GO Foundation, Shirley worked as a Counsel in the Treasury team at Westpac.

Until June 2020, Shirley was the Deputy Chair of the YMCA NSW and in 2019 was listed as one of the 100 Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review.

Shirley is a strong advocate for a Reconciliation and the strength that Australians can all draw from Indigenous Australia and its heritage and culture, the oldest living culture in the world. She believes fiercely in the power of diversity and inclusion and is an advocate for increasing diversity amongst corporate and not-for-profit boards, and senior management.

I attended UNSW Law School and spent three years in the old law school on top of the Library building. As a grad class, we had such a great time. We came from every discipline and we were all trying to learn to be lawyers. Policeman, scientists, arts graduates, accountants – all together in the same class for three years. I don’t think we realised back then how innovative the teaching method was. Our classes were taught through interactive discussion and not through lecture. It made the learning so much more interesting and engaging. One of my clearest memories of law school is the day that the High Court handed down the Mabo decision. I remember students and staff in the hallways openly crying and celebrating. Even back then, UNSW Law School was working hard to create an equal and just Australia, and one where our First Nations people were recognised as the traditional custodians of this land. I am so proud of the work that UNSW Law School does to promote Reconciliation and love that I started my path as a lawyer there. I encourage more law students to consider a career in the third sector and to use their skill set to really make a difference.